I’m not in the business of helping people Tweet better, I’m not in the business of helping people post to Facebook better. My job is to make sure we keep people safe behind the wheel. I’m not going to deny the fact that people want these things. They do. Especially the generation behind us. They’re used to being connected 24 hours a day.
A car is not a mobile device — a car is a car. We will not take a backseat while new telematics and infotainment systems are introduced. There is too much potential for distraction of drivers.
NHTSA Administrator David Strickland took the war on distraction to the enemy in a speech to an auto technology conference, reports Bloomberg. With nearly every manufacturer racing towards ever greater implementation of connectivity, communication and entertainment systems in cars, Strickland’s rhetorical line in the sand foreshadows a serious confrontation between industry and government. Either that, or this is just Ray LaHood-style hot air calculated to make it look like something’s happening.
In any case, the industry has yet to develop a concerted strategy to deal with what has thus far been a largely rhetorical government assault on its new(ish) cash cow. But if Strickland keeps suggesting specific action, the OEMs (who are pledging cooperation) will want to agree on a line of their own (with statistics to back it up) where they can stand together. Thus far that line seems to be “hands free,” but the statistics there don’t seem strong enough to hold off a regulatory offensive. On the other hand, this is clearly another one of those policy discussions that draws a wide variety of responses…